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Are Slackers Killing Your Office Culture?

Are Slackers Killing Your Office Culture?
Credit: Doc Stock Media/Shutterstock

Your bottom line isn't the only thing negatively affected by low-performing employees, new research finds.

Workers who perform poorly on the job hurt an organization's culture and help drive away their higher-performing peers, a study from Eagle Hill Consulting found.

In the study, 68 percent of professionals said the biggest problem created by low-performing employees is that they reduce workplace morale, while 44 percent said such workers' biggest issue is that they increase the workload of those who do work hard.

Many professionals said employees who fail to live up to expectations also hurt company innovation. The study found that 54 percent of professionals said low performers contribute to a lack of initiative and motivation, which results in a mediocrity-accepting culture.

Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said the biggest plus in replacing employees who aren't carrying their own weight is that it provides an opportunity to bring in someone with new ideas and approaches. [8 Tips for Hiring the Right Person for the Job ]

Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill president and chief executive officer, said the study's results are troubling.

"The most successful organizations are those that drive out the weak links and nurture their top performers," Jezior said in a statement. "Yet, our findings indicate that in some cases, low performers are destroying an organization's culture and causing attrition of the talented staff [that] employers should retain."

The key to reversing this trend starts during the hiring process. Jezior recommended businesses use a competency-based hiring process that digs deep into a candidate's career and educational history to get a better understanding of his or her motivations and key influencers.

"We find this is the best way to hire an 'A' team," Jezior said.

A few months after a new hire starts, hiring managers or immediate supervisors should conduct a survey to rate the employee's job performance. This will help companies determine if their hiring process is working and, if not, what changes should be made.

"Finally, it's critically important to really understand just who your high performers are, then design ways to keep them — added incentives and opportunities, for example," Jezior said. "Employee surveys can help, along with 'stay interviews' to solicit feedback from your top performers."

The research shows that many organizations are looking to improve both their hiring and retention efforts. Only 45 percent of those surveyed said their company does a good job of hiring high performers, with just 49 percent saying their organization excels in retaining top performers.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,700 professionals from across the federal, private and nonprofit sectors.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.